As I discussed in a previous post, for my wife's medical practice I wanted a SaaS-based tool to manage patient scheduling. This included managing all appointments, maintaining a database of a variety of information on patients, and doing some basic reporting. It didn't need to include patient self-booking. And we didn't want to go down the integrated and expensive EHR medical system route.
I looked at a lot of different systems. But the one I chose is Appointment-Plus.
Certainly there were slicker looking systems (more on that in a moment), but in terms of actually delivering on the features that we needed, nothing else came close to doing what we wanted.
The SaaS Scheduler Ecosystem
Many of the other tools focused mainly on online patient booking, but were really weak when it came to doing more than making the initial appointment. Clearly there are a lot of SaaS schedulers out there that clearly have that "new startup smell", who have a very flashy looking product, but it isn't very deep.
That's why one of my biggest recommendations for anyone considering a scheduler is to think long and hard about their requirements, how it will be used, etc. It's too easy to get drawn in by a slick looking tool, and finding out a month down the road it doesn't let you do some of the things your business needs it to do.
And frankly, the last thing you want to do is have to move your patient and appointment info to another service after your current provider goes bankrupt, gets sold, or "pivots" (code for changing their business to do something entirely different when their current thing doesn't work out).
Appointment-Plus is a quite mature system, and is in use by a lot of customers across a wide range of businesses. It offers a typical day/week/month calendar view, includes a customer (patient in our case) database, supports multiple users and roles, includes reporting, and also online self-booking (which we didn't need). It's cost is on par with many of the other systems, around $40/month.
But what really set it apart was how the system can be configured to exactly meet our needs. Some examples:
- Want to change everything so it says "patient" instead of "customer"? No problem.
- Need to maintain multiple phone numbers, billing numbers, and a variety of extra info on each patient, have it all called by certain terms, and presented in a certain order? With different information displayed in different parts of the program? Can do.
- Need specific reports with particular fields? Yep.
- Make it easy to track appointment history, including no-shows, confirm appointments, add notes to appointments, etc.? Quickly manage bookings and confirmations right from the calendar screen? Define exactly what information is presented on the calendar? Quickly block out unavailable times? For sure.
Reading through the available options (and there are lots), you definitely get the sense that every single one was put there as a result of real customer feedback that arose from real situations. One of the advantages of them having so many customers. Time and again, I found so many things that we needed that the other systems wouldn't do, but it was there in Appointment-Plus.
Now, it's definitely not the most beautiful of systems. A recent facelift pretty much brought it from "embarassing" to "somewhat dated". In terms of fancy Ajax effects and dynamic behaviors, there aren't a lot. The options screens appear to be a pretty thin layer on top of the underlying database tables. And there are parts of it that are a bit slow for my liking.
But here's the thing. While the "look" is passable but not great, the "feel" works. In evaluating it, I ran through some typical tasks that would need to be done, and found that, once configured to my liking, all the information I needed was right where it needed to be, and completing each task was straightforward and efficient.
After all, given how often you're going to need to do certain things (look up patient info, create, confirm, or reschedule an appointment, etc.) it would drive you crazy if you needed to be jumping around to different parts of the program for simple things.
My wife's admin/receptionist was able to pick it up fairly quickly, and it's worked out well. Over time, she and I have made a few tweaks to how we're using it (e.g. using it to track outstanding patient reports that need completing). But after six months of daily use, it continues to do what we need it to, and does it very well. I'm still happy with the choice.
Now, every business has different needs when it comes to scheduling and appointments, and so what you need probably isn't exactly what we needed. But what really shines about Appointment-Plus is the ability to make it work exactly like you need it to for your own business.